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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- A steady rain leading up to an afternoon rally at the University of Northern Iowa may have prevented all 104 people who confirmed on Facebook from showing up, but a few dozen donned raincoats and held laminated signs anyway.

By the time the drizzle let up shortly after 4 p.m. in front of Maucker Union, State Sen. Jeff Danielson, a Democrat, was on the bullhorn addressing the crowd about how state money for the university’s academic programs had dried up as well.

"At a time when there's competition all around us — people can choose to go anywhere for their education — you don’t mess with your brand," Danielson said, to applause.

Danielson, State Rep. Bob Kressig, Mohair Pear co-owner Dave Deibler and a mixture of students and families were on hand for the Save UNI Rally for Academics and Education, an event put together by Support Price Lab School, a state lobbying group dedicated to keeping Malcolm Price Laboratory School in Cedar Falls open.

Several held identical signs saying "Support Education" on one side and "Education First #1" on the other while Danielson and Kressig spoke about the challenges facing the divided legislature.

"The reason why we’re here today and having these problems at UNI is a lack of funding at the state level," said Kressig, a Democrat in the Republican-controlled Iowa House. "It’s that simple. We're going to need your help."

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Danielson touted the recently passed Iowa Senate bill, which would give a $4.2 million cost-of-living increase, $4 million in special appropriations and $3 million for science, technology, engineering and mathematics to UNI.

Republicans serving the Cedar Valley, like State Rep. Walt Rogers, have said they are also trying to increase money to UNI to prevent 58 graduate and undergraduate programs from being cut.

The cuts, initially proposed several weeks ago, were approved by the state Board of Regents on Wednesday.

Deibler, who introduced the event, noted the Board of Regents will be on UNI’s campus April 25 and 26. He added the group should "plan on doing something then."

Kressig said the letters, emails and phone calls have helped. And if activists keep doing their part, he'll keep doing his.

"This is a great school, and I’m gonna fight like hell to keep the money for this school," he said.

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